Monday, November 30, 2015

Buy Your Own Town for $250,000

How would you like to buy your own town, that even includes a haunted house and a bar? Here are the details:

Name of town: Swett
Location: South Dakota
Property size: 6 acres
Includes: House (haunted), bar, garage
Population: 0
Price: $250,000 (discounted from $399,000 previously)

Wouldn't this make a great holiday gift? You could be your own mayor.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

You Could Have Bought a Disneyland PeopleMover for Half a Million Dollars

PeopleMover ~ Courtesy of Van Eaton Galleries
Do you remember going for a ride on the Disney PeopleMover in the 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's at Disneyland? It was the little tram that took you around Tomorrowland on raised tracks.

Since the PeopleMovers have not been in the park for years, they have become collectors items. And you could have bought one at the Collecting Disneyland Auction offered by Van Eaton Galleries.

This one of only 13 PeopleMovers still in collections was hammered at $471,500, on an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It is in excellent condition.

A total amount of $1.7 million was raised at the auction.

Friday, November 20, 2015

You Missed Out on Buying the Scarface Mansion

Scarface Mansion photo courtesy of 

“'Scarface' Movie Mansion Sells”

The opulent mansion that was the fictional home of Al Pacino’s character, Tony Montana, in the 1983 film Scarface has sold after 17 months on the market and a price drop of almost $23 million. Although the movie portrayed it as a Miami mansion, it is actually a 109-year-old home in Montecito, California. Its best known scenes were Tony's wedding to the cocaine-addicted beauty queen Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer's break-out role) and where Tony made his bloody last stand with his M-16 “little friend” killing 42 assassins. Other than the movie, the mansion is most famous as the wedding site for 54-year-old Charlie Chaplain and 18-year-old Oona O'Neill, daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill, in 1943.

During the real estate crash, international investors were flocking to the U.S. to take advantage of rock bottom prices on everything from Kentucky horse farms to Florida condos. Russian-born financier Sergey Grishin (Facebook, Groupon and Farmville) bought the Montecito estate for a reported $20 million in 2008. Russian fertilizer king Dmitry Rybolovlev set a new U.S. sales record that same year when he purchased Donald Trump's Palm Beach mansion for $100 million. 

In 2011, Russian investor Yuri Milner tied the record when he also spent $100 million on a new Silicon Valley home. Grishin waited until May, 2014 to put the Montecito home on the market at $35 million - but nothing happened. Months later, he dropped the price to $17.9 million. It finally sold for $12.26 million, creating a loss for Grishin over $7.7 million.

Known locally as El Fureidis (Tropical Paradise), the estate with its exotic Mediterranean-style villa and Persian gardens was a favorite Southern California postcard souvenir in the early 1900s, and home to several species of rare palm trees. It was designed by Bertram Goodhue. 

He and the owner, James Waldron Gillespie, a wealthy New Yorker, traveled to the Middle East and Europe for a year looking for inspiration. They added Persian touches of gardens, fountains and accents including a Byzantine-style sitting room with an 18-foot domed ceiling decorated with a floral hand-painted, gold and blue design in 24k gold-leaf modeled after the church of St. John Lateran in Rome. 

The barreled dining room ceiling is also finished in gold leaf and depicts a scene of Alexander the Great conquering Persepolis. The mansion has four bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a library, sitting room and a lounge. A large rooftop terrace provides 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, mountains and Channel Islands and makes an excellent venue for large scale entertaining. Due to the mild climate, the multiple terraces of the estate can be used year-round.

Scarface, written by Oliver Stone and directed by Brian De Palma, was released in December, 1983 to poor reviews and criticism for the film's violence. Despite the bad start, the film grossed $44 million and has become a cult favorite – one of the most popular movies of the last 40 years. “In this country, you gotta make the money first” was one of Al Pacino’s famous Scarface lines. Sometimes in real estate, it just takes a bit longer. The listing agency was Riskin Partners, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate.   

Visit for more celebrity, historic, famous and spectacular homes.

Photography: Tom Ploch

Friday, November 13, 2015

$12.249 Million for Charlton Heston's House

Have a spare $12 million? If so, why not buy Charlton Heston's mansion. This five bedroom, six and a half bathroom home is located on Coldwater Canyon. It includes a tennis court and swimming pool.

According to, there is an additional three-story artist's studio on the property.  It has a  screening room and an elevator. (You could Airbnb it since it also has a bedroom and bathroom.)

It is listed by Myra Nourmand and Howard Stevens at Nourmand & Associates Realtors.

Jeff Bezos Now the Third Richest Man in the World

After Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the third place position has been held by Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican businessman and investor who has a controlling interest in many companies, including Telmex and America Movil.

However, Slim has been pushed out of his position, and been replaced by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, according to a recent report by Bloomberg. This is due to the fact that the stock price of Amazon has had a huge spike.

Yesterday, the stock traded at 680.57 per share. It has since dropped from that price, currently 651.57, but still substantially higher than its price on January 2 this year of 308.52.

Having a substantial amount of stock that more than doubles in less than a year can really help your net worth.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Buy John Barrymore's Home for $42.5 Million, Includes Opium Den

Hollywood History Home!

Steeped in Hollywood history, one of Beverly Hills’ earliest movie star mansions has recently gone on the market at $42.5 million. Built in the early 1920s by architect John Byers for film director King Vidor (War and Peace, Ruby Gentry, The Fountainhead), the mansion was eventually sold to actor John Barrymore.

From its earliest days as a lima bean farm and then a failed oil field, developers began selling large home lots in the early 1900s naming the Los Angeles neighborhood “Beverly Hills,” based on Beverly Farms in Massachusetts. The Beverly Hills Hotel was built in 1911 and attracted many of Hollywood’s biggest stars, some decided to build their own homes in the nearby hills. In 1919, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford transformed an 18-acre hunting lodge into “Pickfair,” a mansion estate with horse stables, tennis courts, bowling alley, movie screening room, Old West saloon and the first private swimming pool in Los Angeles. Charlie Chaplin soon moved in next door and King Vidor’s home was built nearby. Will Rogers and Rudolph Valentino were early Beverly Hills home owners followed in later years by the biggest celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Tony Curtis.   

John Barrymore was born into the famous Barrymore acting dynasty and became its biggest star performing on Broadway, radio and silent films.  In 1925, he achieved something American actors rarely do - his portrayal of Hamlet on the London stage brought great recognition in a country that demanded their actors be Shakespearian trained.  Prior to that success, he was known for his films Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1920, Sherlock Holmes in 1922 and Grand Hotel in 1932.

By the time Barrymore bought Vidor’s Beverly Hills mansion, he was well on his way to a spectacular career and one of Hollywood’s most prolific entertainers.  He added to the house and bought neighboring properties to expand the grounds.  He entertained lavishly and housed his eccentric collections there including that of shrunken human heads.  Barrymore lived in the home until he died in 1942, at which time the mansion was purchased by the Grimaldi family who sold to Louann Zellers of the famous lumber baron family.

It was later sold to Tony Scott, one of the largest grossing directors in Hollywood history with a string of hits such as Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide and The Good Wife.  Having passed away three years ago, the home is now for sale.

Bella Vista, a Spanish-style home on 3.44 acres, consists of 6,976 square feet with seven bedrooms and eight baths.  Retained for posterity of its golden Barrymore years are the opium den above the master suite and the redwood tree trunk floor in the pub where many of the Hollywood elite were entertained.  Included are an octagon-shaped living room, a study, and an oversized paneled second library. There are two guest cottages on the grounds and a newly constructed 21st century two-story guest house with two additional bedrooms, two kitchens, and two living rooms.  Lush grounds surround the property with meandering paths, garden statuary, stone walls and swimming pool with rock waterfall.  

For more information, go to: